After 60 Hours of Labor – The Result Is VBAC!!

By Karalee Lester

2 years ago, my epic labor to deliver our Gus began…

After waking up around 7:00 AM and being sure my water had sprung a slow leak, I called our midwifery clinic and was assured I was just in very early labor and all was well. I had an appointment scheduled for a check up that afternoon anyway, so as long as there were no major changes, she said they’d see me at 3. We spent the day running errands and dropping Riley off for a sleep over with his buddy Tyler while I had mild and manageable contractions. At our check up, our midwife Cindy, found that I was at 2 cm and she was sure Gus would be born in the next 24 hours. We went home and watched a movie, ate and generally hung out… all the while my contractions were really starting to pick up. We timed them for a few hours and while they were still manageable, they were in the range our midwives wanted us to call and come in for… this being a VBAC (our 1st, Riley is 23 months older than Gus… and was born by emergency C-section due to severe pre-eclampsia 3 days before his estimated due date) and all. So we arrived at the hospital around midnight and I was still just 2 cm. After 12 hours of walking around, monitoring, and overall labor icky-ness I was declared to be in prodromal labor (super fun topic to Google) and given a shot of morphine and a prescription for something I don’t recall – while our midwife Chris talked the OB on call into letting us go home.

We arrived home and I crashed for a few hours. My husband, JD, went to get Riley and we all settled in for the night… well – they settled in and those pesky contractions decided to pay me another visit. I was determined not to go back to the hospital until I was ready to push (and contemplating giving birth in our X-terra on the way) so I spent the night laboring in and out of the shower and on the birth ball. At about 5:00 AM, after tearing our bathroom sink half off the wall, I finally woke JD, called Rachel to come stay with Riley until my mom could get there and we headed back to the hospital.

At 6:40 AM I was back in a labor and delivery room with the same wonderful nurse from hospital stay #1, Tamara, at our side, midwife Patricia reporting for duty… and dilated to… 3 cm. “You’re kidding me.” I groaned. 3 cm. Wow.

SO… they started some Pitocin and I was up walking around, hanging out on the birth ball, etc. trying to relax and get things GOING.

At 10:15 I was at 4 cm. Patricia broke my water so they could place an internal monitor on Gus’s little head because I was moving a LOT and they had a hard time keeping tabs on him as they are required to for VBACs. I got in the shower, out of the shower and started throwing up. Great!!! I thought, I must be at that magical point I’d heard and read about… barfing then pushing, awesome. Wrong.

At 12:25 I was only at 7 cm. But it was progress… real progress and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I tried out the Jacuzzi tub for all of 5 minutes and hated it, spent more time on the birth ball and squat bar. At 3:00 PM I was 8 cm.

Then, Patricia finally said those words, “You really need to rest, I think you should get an epidural.” I was crushed but so thankful all at once. I’d made it SO far, but was terrified of being too tired to push when I needed to. At 3:40 I got an epidural and after 56 hours of labor with only a few hours of “rest” I was about to doze off and on for a few hours. At 4:10 PM I was still at the 8 cm from an hour, no progress. At 6:00 PM I was 9 cm and at 7:40 I was FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY ready to push.

For the next 59 minutes, supported by my amazing husband, our beloved midwife, and my best friend I pushed my heart out. When Patricia finally said those words I’d been dying to hear, “His head’s out!” I was done. Or so you’d think. But… his shoulder got stuck. In that horrifying and unbelievable 60 seconds I pushed my hardest, an army of nurses descended to push and shove on the outside of my belly and Patricia ultimately reached in and pulled Gus out.

He was a blueberry, not breathing. They took him to the little table and started giving him oxygen. His heart rate was always strong but it took him another minute before he took his first breath. His APGARS were 2 at one minute and then 9 at 5 minutes! They brought him to me and he latched on right away. He was so amazing and beautiful and BIG. While Patricia sewed me up, we nursed and got to do introductions to Dad and Jonada. I finally couldn’t stand it any longer and told them I had to know how much he weighed! Patricia guessed 8 ½ or 9 lbs but… drum roll… he was 10 lbs 2.2 oz!!!

He is a miracle. I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. It was an insane 60 + hour ride, but I wouldn’t change it or him for anything.

Do I wish for a slightly shorter version of his labor for next time (and a slightly smaller baby), sure… but we are quite a team, Gus Gus and I.

On a side note, I wanted to add that I breastfed Riley until he was 14 months old and Gus until he was 15 months old – even though I went back to work full time when they were each 10 weeks old. Sometimes people seem to think that is impossible… I’m here to tell you it’s not!

Karalee is a 36 year old working mama (office manager) in Oregon with 2 boys (Riley 4 and Gus 2) and she is pregnant with her next baby, due April 2011. Her husband, JD, quit his job when Riley was born to be a stay at home dad and is still hanging with the boys during the day, but now has a “real” job nights and weekends. We juggle household chores, work and our sweet monkey boys while trying to fit in a little us time… and while it’s always a challenge, she wouldn’t change a thing.

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(Family Photo courtesy of Jennifer O’Donnell photography)

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